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SHIPS OF THE BLACK DESERT: VOJAGI ORBITER Art and Text By: Raymond McVay TABLE OF CONTENTS: Introduction.........................................................

02 History..................................................................02 Description...........................................................03 About the Map......................................................04 Interior Map.........................................................05 Life on Board........................................................07 For the GM............................................................07 Adventure Seeds..................................................07 Game Stats...........................................................09 Battle Maps..........................................................10

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INTRODUCTION Combining the spacecraft manufacturing industry of Russia and Japan's advanced robotics, the Empire of Japan and Siberia has been closely watched by the rest of the System since its inception through the Treaty of Mars. Great things are expected from the new megastate; however, their first civilian offering, the Vojagi Orbiter, has garnered more controversy than praise. HISTORY The Siberian Empire is possibly the most unlikely of the new mega-states, given the historic animosity of its parent nations in the twentieth century. It was widely speculated during the Great War that Japan would join the emerging Chinese Alliance. This may have indeed occurred, if it had not been for the atomic attacks that ended the active phase of the conflict. With their islands racked by tsunamis and earthquakes caused by the nuclear strikes, the Japanese people were faced with mass extinction. What followed was a simple case of diffusion; the Siberian plains were virtually empty and Russia's political center in Europe was in no condition to respond, so it was a relatively simple matter for the refugees of Japan to migrate to Russia's east cost. This is not to say that there was no potential for conflicts. Since the desertion of military AI from every nation after the Turing Fallacy was uncovered, Russia fulfilled it's needs for expendable troops by the ethically questionable method of implanting proto-AI processors into the brains of cloned apes. These NuApes, as they came to be known, were bred and trained in Siberia, and were therefore in place to repel the Japanese invaders. This potentially deadly clash was avoided by sheer luck; communications between the Russian military command and their Siberian bases were severed. Bereft of orders, 03

the NuApe legions on site did not attack the Japanese refugees. This one event, according to historians, is responsible for the formation of the current Siberian Empire, the second most powerful mega-state on Terra. While the majority of Russia's eastern assets were formally ceded to the new Empire in the Treaty of Mars, the majority of its aerospace infrastructure was located in the west. These assets, including Russia's oldest and most advanced aerospace manufacturer, RKK Energya, mostly migrated south into Africa with the rest of the European Union. Wartime expansion, however, had led Energya to build factories and establish design divisions all over Russia's territory, including Siberia. One of the more tedious negotiations during the Martian treaty talks involved how to divide these assets between the EurAfrican parliament and the Chrysanthemum Throne. In the end, a new corporation, Imperial RKK Energya, was established as the owners of the Siberian holdings of its parent, which maintained control over the original corporate assets in Russia and Kazakhstan. The division of Energya gave The Empire the infrastructure it needed to rebuild its military and technological might. The merger of Japanese robotics and Russia's primate cyborgs gave the Chrysanthemum Throne the ability, unmatched by any other mega-state, to field armies and Space Forces that could function with no human presence in direct combat. This revolution in military strategy, unrealized since the early days of the Great War, influenced the design and implementation of virtually all technology in the Siberian Empire since. Imperial RKK Energya's Vojagi (Wanderer, in the Esperanto dialect of Niporusc) is one of the first examples of this in a civilian design. While the rocket is

considered highly advanced in its own right, it is the integration of a NuApe command crew and robotic assistance that make the orbiter such a radical design. The status of NuApes under the Treaty of Mars is still under debate. Being a sentient combination of nonsentient life and non-sentient AI, NuApes are neither robots, animals, nor intelligent as an independent species. It is the Empire's position that NuApes have no more rights than robots or animals do, while the Consensus government of Mars maintains that NuApes are equal to AI in terms of status under their laws. Other polities have not yet codified their positions; with the advent of Vojagi, they will now have to deal with what up until now was an internal matter of the Empire alone. Because of this, the Vojagi is not yet for sale outside the Siberian Empire, though it has become the transport of choice within the Empire's holdings. DESCRIPTION The Vojagi Orbiter, taken by itself, is a light orbiter designed to ferry passengers and cargo into orbit or on trans-continental, sub-orbital flights around Terra. At 22.5 meters, it is similar in size and mission to the UACS-designed Paladin Spaceplane, but is generally considered a superior craft in nearly every way. The Vojagi's space frame has an unusual bi-symmetric design as opposed to the radially symmetrical hulls common to tail-landing rockets. This design is nevertheless as well balanced terms of mass as it more traditional contemporaries, as the spacecraft has a very low center of gravity. This is thanks to the rocket's three drive assemblies and cargo bay being located at the base of rocket, while the habitat is amidships and the lighter avionics are installed in the nose of the craft. The nose, tail, and leading surfaces of the engine pods are all armored against friction with silica aero-gel insulation 03

under carbon composite thermal tiles. The rocket's reaction control thrusters are also mounted in these locations, giving the Vojagi excellent maneuverablity. Another unusual design feature of the Vojagi, for an atmosphere-capable rocket, is the absence of viewports in the cockpit. Only a single viewport is used by the crew; located in the aft slope of the rocket's ventral buldge, it is used by the spacecraft's Payload Officer. There is a window of sorts in the nose of the rocket, but it is for the craft's avionics and is completely sealed away from the habitat spaces of the Vojagi. The habitat spaces themselves are divided, with the crew cabins, or nests in the ventral bulge and the passenger compartment in the dorsal hull. The crew deck is in between the Cockpit and the Quarterdeck, while the Passenger Deck sits above the rocket's main Airlock. Below the Airlock is the Engine Access, which rings the upper section of the Cargo Bay. The Cargo Bay door is designed primarily for atmospheric use, and swings down to form a roll-on/roll-off ramp. The exterior of this ramp houses a lithium droplet radiator to dispose of waste heat while the rocket is in orbit. The three engine pods are mounted at the port, starboard, and dorsal of the Vojagi. These are fairly standard L-Drive assemblies, with the laser generator mounted in the nose of the pods (directly below the Engine Access), the orbiter's three hydrogen tanks in the pod's centers, and the exhaust bells in the very aft of the craft. Between the engine pods, as well as below the cargo ramp, are the Vojagi's landing pads. These pads have dual-use capability; two pairs of gel-filled wheels are mounted on each pad as well as swing-down skids that can be deployed when landing on rough

terrain. The wheels allow the Vojagi to move on and off landing areas under it's own power. While the Vojagi's design is lauded as superior to its contemporaries, the spacecraft has certain limitations to its utility. The lack of a nose-mounted airlock makes the rocket impossible to use in spin gravity, limiting its use for long-term occupation in space. In addition, the craft has limited delta-v, as its fuel tanks only account for a small fraction of the spacecraft's mass. This can be ameliorated by mounting additional tanks in the Cargo Bay, but this comes at the cost of having no cargo capacity and a reduced number of crew days in consumables. ABOUT THE MAP The following is a description of the major compartments and features of the Vojagi Orbiter: 1.Cockpit: The control center of the Vojagi spacecraft is mounted in a small module in the nose of the rocket, just under the main avionics. There is a gas-tight door separating the cockpit from the rest of the orbiter, in a passage tube that connects all the compartments of the spacecraft. Because the Vojagi is designed to be commanded by NuApe pilots, the flight seat is specially designed to accommodate simian ergonomics; the analog flight contols are mounted at the end of the extralong armrests, while the computer's keypads are mounted in the foot rests to take advantage of the NuApe's dexterous hind hands. As mentioned, above, the spacecraft is piloted purely by avionics. The systems installed aboard are state-of-the-art; the Avionics bonus for a Vojagi is +2D. The Pilot receives visual data via a curved smart screen mounted across from the flight seat. This screen can display flight data in two or three 04

dimensions, and is the only visual interface for the pilot. Compartments to either side of the cramped pilot station house the rocket's main flight computers. 2. Lavatory: This is the only facility aboard engineered for human use. It is designed to be usable in any gravity from full-gee to free-fall. In zero-gee conditions, the waste is stored in a holding tank and exposed to vacuum to sterilize it, making it safe to store until the gravity dependent plumbing can eliminate it. In case of malfunction, there is a supply of emergency bowelbags that can be used until the Lavatory can be repaired. These are as unpleasant as they sound. 3. Lounge: The luxury version of the Vojagi's Passenger Deck (shown) features a spacious Lounge. The Lounge is typically decorated in that style of spartan decadence unique to Imperial high culture, with the exception of the furniture. In order to provide protection from the acceleration of take off and landing, the lounge is fitted with standard, though expensive, swivel chairs and a full-height table. The chairs may be locked into position and have built-in restraints for safety. The table has a holographic surface that can display data in any format, and can be windowed for multiple users. While not included in the price, most passengers aboard luxury Vojagis will bring along at least one anthroid, to see to their needs. In an alcove off of the main area of the Lounge is the passenger galley. This unit is state-of-the-art, and all Cook Skill Checks are reduced by one difficulty level, even in free-fall. The fare served is, of course, up to the passengers, but is typically only the best in luxury model Vojagis and will raise the cost of consumables up to 300 LSU/crew day. The hatch separating the Lounge from the rest of


the rocket can be locked; this lock can be overridden by the Vojagi's flight computer in an emergency. Rigging the lock to resist this override requires a Moderate Computer Operation Skill Check. 4.Cabins: Vojagis come standard with two small passenger cabins, one on either side of the Passenger Deck. Both cabins are equipped with a pair of bunks that convert (by folding down the top bunk) into a comfortable couch. Both arms of the couch have folding tables built in; these serve in lieu of a table for those who wish to dine privately. The walls opposite the couch/bunks have smart functions built in and can be used as entertainment screens, computer terminals, or holographic backgrounds. There are storage bins under the bunks for the passenger's possessions. 5. Crew Nests: To accommodate the rocket's NuApe crew, the Vojagi is equipped with a pair of over sized nests. These nests are essentially enormous wicker baskets that are held in place by being bolted to the floor and filled with leaves held in mesh nets. There are storage areas in both nests for the crew's few possessions, as well as their special rations. 6. Crew Lavatory: This is basically an extra large version of Area 2, with a toilet that has been specially designed for primate physiology. There is a storage compartment for first-aid gear here as well. 7. Airlock: This is the main entry point for passengers and crew aboard the Vojagi. The egress hatch to the Airlock is protected during atmospheric flight by a pair of folding doors that also mount the habitat's radiators on their interior surfaces. The interior of the lock is a simple tube, with storage lockers on either side. These 06

lockers hold tools and repair supplies, as well as four rescue balls for the passengers. The open spaces to the port and starboard of the Airlock house the Vojagi's life support equipment, which consists of atmosphere tanks and two banks of catalytic air-scrubbers. The airscrubbers can be reached via pressurized panels in the Airlock itself for maintenance. 8. Quarterdeck: This is the Payload Officer's station. It is very similar to the Cockpit and can in fact be used in place of that compartment to pilot the ship. The main difference is the presence of a single window mounted in the curved section of the compantment's outer wall. This window in oriented so that the PLO may directly view the aft ventral surface of the rocket by looking down between his legs. On either side of the window and higher up on the outer wall are a pair of smartscreens that can be used to display diagnostics, flight data and other important information. This station may also be used as a gunnery station if the Vojagi has modified L-Drives equipped with military grade optics. The Avionics bonus for piloting the craft from this station is the same; however, the bonus to Spacecraft Operation: Weapons is only +1D. 9. Engine Access: This compartment is the usual domain of the Vojagi's pair of Laboruchi maintenance robots. The three access points to the engines themselves are mounted along the outer dorsal wall of the craft, and are separated by walkways that have banks of storage lockers for tools and parts. The Engine Access area is reached by another walkway linking the centrall access compartment to the habitat's passage tube. In the floor of this walkway is a gas-tight hatch that leads to the Cargo Bay's access tube below. The compartments of this area are all divided by

gastight hatches that can be locked. These locks can be overridden by the Vojagi's flight computer in an emergency. Rigging the locks to resist this override requires a Moderate Computer Operation Skill Check. 10. Cargo Bay: This is little more than a squared-off tube in the aft half of the Vojagi's ventral hull. There is an access tube running down the dorsal wall of the Cargo Bay, which terminates in a gas-tight hatch allowing access to the Cargo Bay floor. While lacking the independent facilities of the Airlock above, the Cargo Bay's access tube can serve as a crude airlock, allowing personnel to enter and leave the ship via the Cargo Bay while it is landed on Luna or docked at an asteroid. The ventral wall of the Cargo Bay is composed almost entirely of the craft's cargo ramp. While this can be sealed, it cannot be made gas-tight; once in space, the Cargo Bay is in vacuum. The Cargo Bay is insulated against changes in temperature, however. To either side of the cargo ramp are mounted a pair of cargo arms, used to transfer supplies and freight into the Bay. These devices have hardly changed since their introduction in the twentieth century. The main difference between the arms mounted on the Vojagi and their ancestors is that they can be used in full gravity. Their length and multiple joints allow them to reach any point on the ventral hull while their universal sockets allow them to mount tools, robots and dock with cargo containers and other spacecraft. In addition, the cargo arms have power feeds and gas and liquid hoses that allow them to be used as umbilicals for resupply in open space. LIFE ON BOARD Like the Siberian Empire itself, there is a definite stratification in the quality of accommodations between 07

the passengers and the crew aboard a Vojagi. Passengers enjoy some of the best short-term luxuries to be had in space; with virtually every need and want provided for in terms of comfort and entertainment. The NuApe crews of these rockets, however, live and work in cramped conditions that are little better than the capsules endured by space-farers in the twentieth century. Despite this, the NuApes that come with the sale of Vojagi rockets generally lead an easier, less dangerous life than their fellows in the Imperial military. FOR THE GM The Vojagi Orbiter, as stated before, is analogous to the Paladin Spaceplane developed in UACS; it is the twenty-third century's equivalent of the Lear Jet. Because of the ethical issues surrounding it's NuApe crew, the Vojagis are far more rare than the Paladin, the former being only available for sale in the Empire. Despite this, they will still be a fairly common sight in the spaceports and orbits on and around Terra, as Imperial citizens and government officials use the craft extensively. The Vojagis also come in an economy variant, suitable as a commuter craft around the world and in space. The details of the economy model, as well as deck plan variations, will be detailed in the next installment of our Spacecraft Spotlight series. These articles are available on the Blue Max Studios blog ( and in the DriveThruRPG Newsletter. Perhaps the most useful function of a Vojagi in a campaign is a way to introduce non-Imperial Characters to NuApes. ADVENTURE SEEDS The following are a few suggestions on how to

incorporate a Vojagi Orditer into an existing campaign: - Another Mouth to Feed: The PCs acquire a Vojagi somehow through legitimate sale, gambling, or other means appropriate to your campaign from an especially cruel NPC. What they did not realize at the time was that the spacecraft came complete with its NuApe crew. No matter how the PCs feel about NuApes, they will assume the PCs are as bad as their former master and will attempt to sabotage or otherwise interfere with the PC's agenda. This can even include arranging an accident that will ingure or kill the PCs. The PCs must somehow convince the NuApes that they are not like the other humans the apes have met before, of suffer the consequences. - Back into Bondage: The PCs travel on a Vojagi crewed by free NuApes. This can either be a NuApe PC or an NPC that owns the rocket. The Vojagi travels to a location that is under the control of the Siberian Empire, which does not recognize NuApe rights or freedoms, and officials from the Imperial government attempt to capture the NuApe crew. For added fun, have the Imperials assume that the PCs are NuApe abolitionists (whether they are or not) and attempt to apprehend them as well. - Mars Express: This scenario involves the PCs being on Mars, but can be adapted to work on asteroid colonies that have signed the Martian Consensus. In this scenario, the PCs are traveling aboard a Vojagi when the NuApe pilot is stuck ill with one of that race's many health problems. The PC group must somehow either revive the pilot or try to fly the rocket themselves, despite all the controls being optimized for simian physiology. Depending on the tone of your campaign, this scenario can be made terrifying or hilarious, as one PC attempts to pilot with their hands while another 08

controls the keypads at station's feet, and the rest try to wrestle a 380-kilo gorilla who isn't cooperating. While the above adventure seeds are unique to the Vojagi Orditer, this spacecraft is still a rocket. Many of the adventure seeds from our other products can be applied the the Vojogi with little or no modification.

You can contact Mr. McVay and Blue Max Studios by email at For free content for this product as well as more information on our future products, commentary on gaming, game design, and science fiction, follow our blog at

Craft: Imperial RKK Energya Vojagi 1 Orbiter Type: Light Orbiter Length: 22.5 meters Skill: Spacecraft Operation: Vojagi Orbiter Crew: 2 (NuApes) Passengers: 4 Cargo Capacity: 90 metric tons Safety Threshold: 10 Consumables: 42 crew days Fusion Power? Yes Acceleration: 1g Delta V: 25 Hull Strength: 2D Damage Range: 6 Avionics: +2D Weapon Systems: Three Weaponized L-Drives Fire Arc: Aft Fire Control: +1D Damage: 3D Capacity: 3


Battle Map: One Inch = 1.5 Meters Permission granted to reproduce for personal use


Battle Map: One Inch = 1.5 Meters Permission granted to reproduce for personal use

Battle Map: One Inch = 1.5 Meters Permission granted to reproduce for personal use